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The Last Speaker of Amurdag
by Sherman Pearl

He'll die soon
of isolation; his language
will expire with him; his gods will grow mute.

Out in the Outback
he tries to teach animals
the vocabulary. They answer in their own dialects.

When I die
so will my secret tongue,
the sounds not even my dearest ones understand.

All that richness
will go unspoken— those
thirty expressions of love, fifty ways to say lonely

I speak that language
with my eyes, my fingertips.
Words I dare to utter wobble out like flightless birds.

I've tried to pass
my language on to the children
but have come to know in my age that each of them

harbors a lingo
incomprehensible to me;
that they too are longing for someone to speak to.

Maybe silence
is the only language that lasts.
I could speak it in Amurdag, I could speak it to you.


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